Shane Carwin vs. Brock Lesnar Could Be Biggest UFC Event Ever

Shane Carwin is bright enough to handle the demands of a full-time job as a civil and mechanical engineer in northern Colorado. Maybe then, he'd be so kind as to explain the science behind the mind-scrambling statistics he's compiled. Twelve fights, 12 first-round stoppage victories.

"I'm wordless. I'm speechless," was all he could muster after smashing his way through his latest victim, the one-time undisputed and one-time interim UFC champion Frank Mir at UFC 111.

The challenges though, continue to get bigger, and the next problem the engineer must solve is the biggest in MMA right now: UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar. When he and Lesnar meet this summer, likely on July 3 in Las Vegas, it will be -- quite literally -- huge. In fact, the biggest title matchup ever, at least in terms of bulk. And the interest level for the fight might just match the oversized participants.

Shockingly, Carwin-Mir marked the first time in major MMA history that a heavyweight championship match included two men who weighed in at the 265-pound limit. It had never happened in PRIDE; it had never happened in the UFC. The second time is on the way. But Lesnar is naturally much larger than Mir, who has weighed in the 245-255 neighborhood for most of his career and had bulked up in hopes of a rubber match with Lesnar.

Instead he was beaten by the monstrous Carwin, and now, he and Lesnar will usher in the new age of superheavyweights.

While many figured a potential final fight in the Lesnar-Mir trilogy would be a huge box office and pay-per-view draw, the reality is a Carwin-Lesnar fight might even prove bigger. It will depend on factors other than Lesnar and Carwin, of course, like having a strong co-main event, for one.

But in Carwin, you have a guy who's yet to lose, yet to let his opponent escape the first round, and has the power and wrestling background to counter Lesnar's biggest strengths. In many ways, they are mirror images of each other.

"It's going to be a heavyweight championship fight with two real heavyweights," UFC President Dana White said. "It's going to be fun, and it's going to be big."

Hyping the fight shouldn't be a problem for the UFC for a few various reasons:

1) UFC 116 takes place on a holiday weekend
The UFC has done very well at establishing the Fourth of July and New Year's weekends as must-see events. With young people -- the sport's core audience -- in a festive mood, money flows more freely.

2) The storyline of Brock Lesnar's return
Lesnar already does a great job of selling himself as a draw (UFC 91 sold around 1 million pay-per-views, and UFC 100 did about 1.6 million), but now the UFC gets to add an extra element, and that is his return from a career-threatening ailment. Will Lesnar be compromised by the ordeal, or will he be better than ever after addressing the issue? Even mainstream media outlets will be hard-pressed to ignore the interest in such a scenario.

3) Shane Carwin's perfect record
Records like his are exceedingly rare in MMA. The sport is too complex with too many potential hazards. The learning curve is too steep. Most fighters don't get through their first 12 fights without a loss. Even if they're unbeaten, surely they'll at least fight one or two close bouts that require a judges' decision.

Here's a comparison of the first 12 fights of other notable active fighters:

Georges St. Pierre: 11-1 with two decisions
Fedor Emelianenko: 11-1 with three decisions
Chuck Liddell: 11-1 with six decisions
Anderson Silva: 10-2 with four decisions
BJ Penn: 9-2-1 with five decisions

Lesnar, meanwhile, is 4-1, including one decision in his five pro fights.

By any measure, Carwin has had an extraordinary start to his career. But what makes it even more remarkable is he began his MMA journey at the age of 30, after missing out on a possible pro football career and then establishing himself in the work world.

What we are witnessing here is something akin to the rise of Randy Couture, who made his debut at 33 and went on to become one of the biggest names in MMA history. If Carwin can beat Lesnar, it will be the final leg of an improbable journey.

So what are his chances? Pretty good, actually. Though Lesnar is slightly larger in both size and height, Carwin has the knockout power to keep him honest, and the wrestling technique to pose a real obstacle. He's been training jiu-jitsu longer than Lesnar, too. After a pair of postponenments ruined two opportunities for a Lesnar-Carwin showdown, it appears MMA will finally see its version of The Unstoppable Force vs. The Immovable Object.

"I see it as destiny," Carwin said. "Brock and I were both [NCAA] national champions at around the same time in wrestling, and we never got to meet in wrestling. Now here we are 10 years later, and we finally get to meet. And it's on a much bigger stage, the biggest stage in the world, and I'm excited for it. Elated."


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